Mormon Parenting: Teaching children about Christ, Part 2

Published: Thursday, March 15 2012 5:28 p.m. MDT

Joao Oliveira and his son Thomas, both of Brazil, stand in front of the Christus statue on Temple Square during the morning session of the 180th general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2010.

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Editor's note: This is the second of three articles about teaching our children about Christ.

You may have heard the story about the father who saw his daughter trying to put together a very complex jigsaw puzzle of a detailed and complicated painting. Not wanting the child to become discouraged, he said, “Honey, that is a very, very hard puzzle. You might want to start with an easier one.”

The dad went about his business for a while and then came back into the room where the child was playing and, to his amazement, saw that the puzzle was completely assembled.

“I must really have a prodigy here,” he thought to himself. “This girl is more brilliant than I had realized!”

“How did you do it?” he asked her.

“Well, Dad,” she said, “I happened to turn some of the pieces over and saw that there was something on the other side that was much simpler. It was a drawing of a man, and when I got it together, I just turned it over and everything on the other side was put together, too.”

The gospel is like that. It can seem incredibly complex when we think of all the scriptures, all the commandments, all the principles and ordinances and teachings. Yet if we concentrate on Christ himself, on knowing about him and about his life, and put our focus on his example and his atoning sacrifice for us, we find that we are putting the gospel together inside ourselves at the same time.

And certainly the same is true for our children.

If we aim always at the commandments and guidelines and requirements, kids may not only feel lectured to but also a bit overwhelmed. If our focus is the Lord himself and how he lived and taught, there is a wonderful spirit of simplicity and joy that can enter our children’s hearts.

As members of the LDS Church, we have the Restoration’s added knowledge of Christ as well as the truths of traditional Christianity to teach to our children — and there is nothing in the world that is more important for them to learn.

We can teach them about Jesus’ premortal roles as elder brother and presenter and implementer of God’s mortal plan; we can teach them about him as the creator and as Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament; we can teach them about him as one distinct and separate member of the Godhead; we can teach them about him as the Lord who taught the Nephites and the dead who now reside in the spirit world; and we can teach them about him as our advocate with the Father and ultimately as our judge.

We can teach all these additions of the Restoration in addition to all that Christians everywhere teach from the beautiful New Testament.

It is wonderful to think of the Restoration not only as the revealer of truths that were lost, but also as the corrector of errors in thinking that began in the Dark Ages and survived the Reformation.

The gospel is made more logical and believable by knowing (and teaching our children) that Christ did not come only to one people in one part of the Earth and that he did not leave the forming of his church to others who would come later; nor did he leave out or forget those who had lived before his coming.

But in addition to the misconceptions of traditional Christianity regarding Christ, there are also some subtle misconceptions that flourish in the culture of the church. It is these that we will discuss in the concluding article in this series next week.

Get involved in the dialogue on this important subject by commenting and/or by taking this simple reader poll. We will let you know the results.

Reader poll: (mark only one answer)

What do you think is the most important thing you can teach your children?

a. To know all they can about the church and to follow its prophets and teachings

b. To know all they can about Jesus Christ and to follow his example and teachings

c. Both, because they are synonymous

d. Both, because each is incomplete without the other

Richard and Linda are New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Read Linda’s blog at www.deseretnews.com/blog/81/A-World-of-Good.html and visit the Eyres anytime at www.TheEyres.com.

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